The Swiss are remarkable for their diligence. As they are descended from mountain folk who had to plan ahead to keep food on the table during the wintry months, hard work is a cultural trait. An off-shoot of this is their obsession with cleanliness and the cleaning task.
Someone is always cleaning something. Every couple of months, we are told to remove our car from the basement garage for a few hours so that cleaners can, well, clean it out. Never mind that it is still quite spotless.
Once every few weeks we need to clear the stuff away from our front door as cleaners come in to vacuum and wash the stairwell, landings and lift in our low-rise apartment building.
We came across this outdoor toilet in the forest next to a meadow. Notice the toilet brush next to it? No, we didn't lift the cover to see if it's like a regular WC with water in it.
One friend, when looking at a flat for rent, asked if the white-tiled floor was easy to clean. The answer was, "Yes, of course." She hadn't counted on how frequently she had to clean it as every single strand of hair that falls can clearly be seen on it.
If you want to make a coffee appointment with a Swiss woman, she probably can't make it this Thursday as she's cleaning her apartment. Friday? Oh, no, she's doing the laundry. If she likes you well enough, she might pencil you in three weeks from now.
Bovine Rambo? A cow with horn guards or growth guides on Zugerberg (mountain).
I, being totally, irrevocably, cleaning challenged, cannot hope to keep up, let alone compete, with these hyper-hygienic folk. So, to immerse myself more in the quaint and interesting Swiss culture, I opted to make Zopf, the braid bread.
Zopf (Braid Bread)
500g Zopf or bread flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 packet of dried yeast (7g)
300ml milk, lukewarm
50g softened butter
an eggyolk mixed with a tbs of water for brushing
Mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk in a big bowl. Mix flour with sugar and salt. When milk has bubbled up a bit, add the flour mixture and butter. Mix till you get a maleable lump. Knead for 10 minutes. Leave in the oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap for an hour in a warm place or till doubled in volume.
With floured hands, divide dough into two long ropes. Twist them together, then double up and twist again. Leave to rise again for about 30-40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 210 degrees C. Brush top of braid with egg-yolk mix. Bake on parchment for 30-40 minutes. Bottom should sound kind of hollow when knocked with a knuckle.
I forgot to mix the eggyolk with water, so the 'paint' looks a bit thick and unsightly. I also used a loaf pan to contain the braid, so I wouldn't get pointy ends or funny shaped slices. (Swiss grandpas wouldn't be pleased.)